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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Colin Powell; Interview With Tom Daschle; Sharpton, Connerly Debate Affirmative Action

Aired January 19, 2003 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem, and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for my fifth anniversary hosting LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our interview with Secretary of State Powell in just a few minutes, and throughout this program we'll bring you excerpts from some of the many guests we've had over the past five years.

All that coming up shortly, but first this CNN news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Now back to the situation involving Iraq. Earlier today, I had the chance to speak with the U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, about the showdown with Iraq, the North Korea standoff and much more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks once again for joining us.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning, Wolf, and congratulations on your fifth anniversary.

BLITZER: Oh, thank you very much. Quick question, everybody in the country, people around the world want to know: Will there be a war in Iraq?

POWELL: We're still hoping for a peaceful solution, but it is up to Saddam Hussein and Iraq to make that decision.

Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei are in Baghdad today. I hope they will make it clear to Saddam Hussein that he's running out of time. He's got to cooperate. Moreover, he's got to disarm. And he's got to do it in a way that the inspectors don't have to go hunt and peck, looking for things, but that Iraq comes forward and heeds the will of the international community that it must disarm of its weapons of mass destruction.

If they do that, there is still a chance for a peaceful solution.

BLITZER: How much time do the Iraqis have?

POWELL: Well, we'll see. I think time is running out. We can't keep this up forever, and we all look forward to receiving reports from Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei next Monday, the 27th of January, at the United Nations, and after that, the Security Council will have an opportunity to make its judgment as to what should happen next, and the president of the United States will also make his judgment as to what he thinks should happen next.

BLITZER: Well, you're quoted as saying earlier in the week, you said we believe a persuasive case will be there at the end of the month that Iraq is not cooperating.

POWELL: I think there is a persuasive case there now.

POWELL: Iraq has given us a false declaration in December, still has not accounted for stocks of various biological and chemical agents that we know they had, and there is a discrepancy between what they had and what they are now reporting they have, and they have not solved those discrepancies. And we simply can't walk away from that kind of discrepancy.

So there is a case now, and we will see how strong that case looks, when Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei report, but I think it's fairly persuasive that they are not cooperating, and I hope they understand as a result of the visit of the two chief inspectors today, that time is running out on them.

BLITZER: It's one thing not to cooperate; it's another thing to find a smoking gun. The inspectors say so far they have not found a smoking gun. Is not cooperating enough of a smoking gun, if you will, to justify war?

POWELL: That will be a matter for the Council to decide, and the president will make his own decision. But you know, look at what we have found. We have found false declarations. There are all sorts of toxic agents that are unaccounted for, and then this week, the inspectors found chemical rockets. Now, those rockets are not just laying benignly around. What are they doing there? Why...

BLITZER: But they were...

POWELL: What difference does it make? The point is that they are designed for a unique purpose, and that's to carry a chemical agent, and so they should have been declared, they should have been destroyed. This is the kind of weapon that Iraq says it no longer has. And yet, there it is.

Now, whether that constitutes one person's smoking gun or some other person's smoking gun, I think it contributes to a body of evidence that suggests Iraq is not disarming and is not cooperating with efforts of the United Nations inspectors to get them to disarm, and that's what we're looking for. And I hope that messages comes through clearly today when they meet with the Iraqi officials.

BLITZER: Well, the Iraqis say it was simply a slip; they made a mistake.

POWELL: Well, how many other slips are out there? They're laying there; they're in a facility. It's not a slip. They knew they were there. Somebody knew they were there. The inspectors found them. They didn't have a chance to hide these. How many other slips are there?

And when you look at the declaration, when you look at the efforts they have been taking to hide things, when you see that documents that are relevant, relevant to knowing the truth are being squirreled away in the homes of scientists, when scientists are not allowed to come forward, then you can't say that they are participating in the effort to make sure they have no weapons of mass destruction.

And so I think their record so far, since the passage of U.N. Resolution 1441 is not a good record, and they have very little time left to make it a good record.

And everybody knows what they have to do: come forward, tell the truth, give an accurate declaration, tell us what happened to these stocks of biological and chemical agents, tell us what you've got and put it out there for the inspectors to see.

If you say you don't have them, if you say you're clean, then come clean. And time is running out. And we just can't keep hunting and pecking and looking and trying to see if we can capture something or discover something.

Iraq is supposed to be cooperating in this effort. Iraq is supposed to be disarming, and they have not established, to my satisfaction anyway, and I think to the satisfaction of the international community, that they are moving in good faith to disarm, which is what they're supposed to do under the resolution.

BLITZER: You keep saying time is running out. How much time do they have?

POWELL: I'm not prepared to give a time here today, Wolf, because I think it's important that we continue this deliberative process that was set out in U.N. Resolution 1441.

Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei will report next Monday. The Council will hear their report, take their report into account, so will the president of the United States and his advisers. And then we'll see what happens next, what steps are appropriate after that.

BLITZER: You heard the chief U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, say that after January 27th, a week from tomorrow, they still need 60 days thereafter to come up with another review before any action necessarily could be taken. Do you accept that argument?

POWELL: I heard Dr. Blix, and what he's referring to, of course, is another U.N. Resolution, 1284, which has another deadline to it.

BLITZER: That was back in 1998.

POWELL: Right -- well, 1999, if I'm not mistaken, early 1999. But the real issue is how the Council views this. 1441, the latest resolution, was rather specific. We want an accurate, complete, full declaration of what you're doing. We want cooperation with inspections. We don't want you to frustrate their efforts.

Iraq is making it hard for us to perform aerial reconnaissance in support of the U.N. inspectors, and so far they have not acted in a way that suggests they're serious about disarming.

And if they're not serious about disarming, the Council should recognize that next week, and start to decide what to do and not just say, let's just keep going and slip into the 1284, the other resolution around.

And so I know Dr. Blix is operating under two resolutions. The fact of the matter, it will be up to the Council to decide what happens next after Dr. Blix reports and Dr. ElBaradei reports.

BLITZER: Some of the allies, the French, other permanent members of the Security Council, the Russians, say they need a second resolution before there can be any war. You disagree with them. Why?

POWELL: I'm saying that there is more than enough evidence, and frankly there is more than enough authority in previous resolutions, if it becomes necessary to act unilaterally or with like-minded nations, but there are a number of nations who say they would like to see a second resolution.

Well, the United States will examine the evidence that is before us after the two inspectors report next week. We'll consult with our friends and allies, and it is up to the Security Council to decide whether or not they want a referral to the Council to see whether or not a second resolution is appropriate at this time, and if that is what the Council wants to do, the United States will certainly participate in that debate.

But the president has always said from the very beginning that the object is to disarm Iraq, and if the U.N. is not willing to do it, and is not willing to be relevant in a situation such as this, the United States reserves the option if it feels it must do so to act with like-minded nations to disarm Iraq.

BLITZER: But as you well know, being a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, you can't keep tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf region forever in an unlimited capacity, 50 or 60 or 70,000 Marines aboard amphibious assault ships under a hot sun in the Persian Gulf. How long can you keep them there? So there is this sort of deadline that's created by the deployment.

POWELL: The president has not made a decision. These deployments have a purpose of supporting diplomacy and making sure there is no doubt in Saddam Hussein's mind that we're going to keep the pressure on. If we had not shown the willingness to put in place a military force, the inspectors would never have gotten in. Iraq isn't doing this, you know, as a cooperative effort, they still don't understand that they must comply with the requirements of 1441, or they are going to face military action. And therefore, it is very prudent of the United States and other nations to begin deploying armed forces to the region.

Now, how long they will stay and how long can you maintain a particular level, I will let my colleague Don Rumsfeld talk to that. But the president has made it clear that we will position ourselves to do whatever might be necessary, in the absence of Saddam Hussein disarming under the terms of 1441.

BLITZER: If you take a look at this proposal apparently out there, the Saudis, the Turks, others that want to see some Iraqi generals overthrow Saddam Hussein, or get Saddam Hussein to leave, to go into exile someplace, do either of these proposals in your estimate have a chance of succeeding?

POWELL: Well, I am not familiar with all of these proposals that are being talked about in the press. I don't know how real any of them are. I think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off, and this whole situation would be resolved if Saddam Hussein and all those around him would think like him, his sons in the top leadership of the regime, would leave so that others could step forward who would understand the importance of disarming and how a better future awaits the Iraqi people if they disarm and cooperate with the U.N. and use their oil wealth for the benefit of the people, as opposed to developing weapons of mass destruction, to threaten their neighbors and to threaten the world.

And so if that were to happen, I think that would be just fine, from my standpoint, but I don't know how much merit there is to these various so-called proposals.

BLITZER: Are you open to supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would give amnesty to these generals, these military officers if they were to rise up against Saddam Hussein?

POWELL: Well, I would certainly consider it. I can't say, I can't say it in the abstract whether or not we would support such a resolution or not. If this happens, or there is a possibility of it happening, I'd be more than willing to talk to my colleagues in the U.N. about it, but I'm not going to say today in a hypothetical sense what we might or might not do.

BLITZER: Five years ago, you were on this program, the first year that I was hosting this program, and we spoke about Iraq. You were then in the private sector. I want you to listen to what you said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: Perhaps we should communicate to the Iraqis that we're not going to get them to Perils of Pauline exercise every few months. Once you have denied us access to a particular facility, we're going to put that on a target list and take it out at a time of our choosing, and not have to create large armadas every four months to impose our will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was a little younger Colin Powell five years ago, in April 1998. But those words probably still ring true today.

POWELL: Well, they tried it with Desert Fox, I think, later that year, and it didn't persuade the Iraqis to disarm. And so, a policy was adopted at the end of the Clinton administration, continued into this administration, towards the end of the Clinton administration, that said regime change seems to be the only thing these people understand.

And so, once again, they are being given a last chance by the United Nations under 1441 to disarm. Change the nature of this regime, disarm. Participate in the disarmament. Cooperate with your disarmament. Come forward. Be honest.

You say you don't have them, then let's establish the facts that you don't have them. But we think you do have them, and if that is not the solution you choose, then it is not going to be pin-pricks, it's going to be a military operation that will remove the regime.

BLITZER: Like me, you lived through the anti-war demonstrations during Vietnam. Yesterday, a big demonstration here in Washington, elsewhere around the country. How concerned are you that this anti- war movement seems to be growing across the United States?

POWELL: Well, people are afraid to express their concerns, and there is always a great deal of anxiety when it looks like military action may be coming.

POWELL: But I think most American people understand that, if we have to undertake military action, we have a good reason, and that is to disarm a regime that is threatening its neighbors and threatening the United States, and they would support the president if it becomes necessary to undertake military action.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Just ahead, more of my interview with the secretary of state. I'll ask him his thoughts on President Bush's position on affirmative action. We'll also talk about the situation involving North Korea.

First, we've welcomed you, our LATE EDITION viewers, from many places around the world over the past five years. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: It's noon in Washington...

BLITZER: ... 6:00 p.m. here in Cologne, Germany...

BLITZER: ... midnight here in Beijing... BLITZER: ... and 7:00 p.m. here in Botswana. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a lot of discussion about bloated budgets and unfair spending in Washington, D.C. The surest way to make sure the budgets aren't bloated is to give people their money back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was then-Governor George W. Bush here on LATE EDITION almost exactly two years ago, January of 2000, as he was campaigning for the White House. We spoke at that time in Iowa.

Welcome back to our special fifth anniversary of LATE EDITION. Now back to my interview with the Secretary of State Colin Powell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: "The New York Times" in an editorial today writes this: "The Bush administration's radically different responses to weapons threats from Iraq and North Korea have confused the American people. Worse, they risk sending other rogue states the perverse messages that the way to receive lenient treatment from Washington is to develop nuclear weapons."

POWELL: Well, I think that's an incorrect assessment. We don't have a cookie cutter policy for every situation. Iraq, we have tried to solve that problem diplomatically for 12 years.

In the case of North Korea, we all had believed that the problem had been dealt with with the agreed framework of 1994, that at least for eight years capped what was happening at the facilities at Yongbyon. But we discovered earlier last year that those activities may have been kept at Yongbyon, but the North Koreans have started another nuclear weapons development program, having to do with enriched uranium.

And this administration did not ignore those facts; did not walk away from them. We presented those facts to the North Koreans. We said, we know what you're doing. Now, we want to have a better relationship with you. We believe there are ways we can help your starving population and your country without electricity, your country with a failed economy. We have a bold approach, but you've got to stop this kind of activity.

And what did they do? They acknowledged the existence of this program, and so we are now three months into this situation with North Korea, and the president still believes strongly that the diplomatic solution is possible, and we're working with our friends and allies to achieve a diplomatic solution, just as we were trying to do with Iraq for 12 years.

BLITZER: Are you close?

POWELL: ... so there is no inconsistency in the policy.

It's, I think, silly to think that because you're doing -- you're adapting a certain set of policies to one place, you have to adapt them in another place in the same fashion.

I think we are seeing some progress with respect to the work we are doing with our friends in the region. This is an international problem; it's not just a problem between the United States and North Korea. It's between North Korea and its neighbors and the international community, IAEA, the U.N. as well as the United States.

And we're working with all of those parties, and I'll be in New York this afternoon at the U.N., speaking to my fellow foreign ministers on the Security Council.

BLITZER: On this issue?

POWELL: Yes.

BLITZER: Whether to bring it before the Security Council?

POWELL: We'll be discussing it. Right now, it is not -- it is being considered by the IAEA, and I hope that the board of governors will meet in the not-too-distant future in Vienna and from that meeting, they can refer the matter to the Security Council.

BLITZER: The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hirsch writes a new article in New Yorker, just coming out, and he writes this: "One American intelligence official who has attended recent White House meetings cautioned against relying on the day-to-day administration statements that emphasize a quick settlement of the dispute. The public talk of compromise is being matched by a much private talk of high level vindication."

Quote, "Bush and Cheney want the guy's head, Kim Jong Il's, on a platter. Don't be distracted by all this talk about negotiations. There will be negotiations, but they have a plan and they are going to get this guy after Iraq. He is their version of Hitler."

POWELL: I have no idea what Mr. Hirsch is talking about. I have been in every meeting with the president since this began to unfold, since the beginning of the administration, and the president has made it clear he wants this solved diplomatically.

I refer you to the president's speech in South Korea last February, where he spoke about the better future for the peninsula, where he spoke to the North and said, we want to help. We're helping you with food, and we want to see the light that exists in the South extend to the North, and so I've been in no conversation that reflects that kind of judgment. BLITZER: We have only a minute left, but let me ask you about affirmative action, an issue the president raised this week in opposing University of Michigan's policy on affirmative action. This is what you said at the Republican Convention in 2000. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: We must understand the cynicism that exists in the black community, the kind of cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helps a few thousand black kids get an education, but you hardly hear a whimper when it's affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax code with preferences for special interests. It doesn't work.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Did the president ask for your opinion on affirmative action before he went public this week?

POWELL: The president and I have spoken about affirmative action on a number of occasions, and particularly about the time of my speech to the convention.

He was not surprised by my speech. He is quite familiar with my views on affirmative action, and we had a conversation about the Michigan case just about the time he was deciding it.

I think what the president has done in this case is to leave open the possibility for the court to make a judgment as to how race can or cannot be used, and he restricted the brief that he submitted, that the government submitted to the merits of the Michigan case, and I think reasonable people can differ over that case.

The president made a judgment that he felt that the program followed by the University of Michigan was unconstitutional, and therefore he felt he had an obligation to present that point of view to the court, and it is now up to the court to make a judgment as to whether that kind of affirmative action program of the University of Michigan is acceptable or not, and we will see what the court believes.

I am, as you know, a strong proponent of affirmative action. I wish it was possible for everything to be race-neutral in this country, but I'm afraid we're not yet at that point where things are race-neutral.

BLITZER: So you still believe that race should be a factor, one of many factors in accepting young kids into college? POWELL: Yes. I think -- I most certainly do. I believe race should be a factor among many other factors in determining the makeup of a student body of a university. A public university, a university exists to educate the public, and, if there is any segment of the public that is not adequately represented, then the university as a university is doing its chartered job for the public.

So, in the case of Michigan, they were trying to get more minorities into the university and into the law school, and they were also trying to get more students from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to make the university more representative.

Each university goes about this in a different way. President Bush, when he faced this issue as Governor Bush, and found that he had to change the policies for the University of Texas system, put in place -- the legislature put in place, with his support, a 10-percent rule that said that the top 10 percent of all high school graduating classes in Texas were eligible to go to the public universities of Texas. That was another way to get at it. President Bush calls it affirmative access.

One thing I'm absolutely sure is, that President Bush is committed to diversity in education, and he has said so. He and I have talked about it on many occasions. It's just that he found that the University of Michigan case did not meet what he believed was the constitutional test.

BLITZER: 10 seconds. Do you still think the University of Michigan has the stronger case, as you suggested 2 years ago?

POWELL: Several years ago, when I looked at it, I thought the University of Michigan had a strong case, and now it is before the Supreme Court to make a decision.

BLITZER: All right. Mr. Secretary...

POWELL: Thank you.

BLITZER: ... thanks very much. Good luck to you.

POWELL: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Just ahead, our CNN news alert, and we'll also talk more about the showdown with Iraq, the North Korean standoff and much more with the U.S. Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle.

And later, empty warheads discovered this past week in Iraq. Have U.N. inspectors found a so-called smoking gun? We'll get insight from the chief inspector, Hans Blix.

Our special fifth anniversary LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the people of New York chose her, they would have somebody with 30 years of unbroken, consistent, committed dedication, who knows a lot and is great with working with people. So if that's what she wants, I'm strong for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Then-President Bill Clinton on LATE EDITION back in 1999 during a trip to Germany. He was talking about the first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's decision to run for a seat in the United States Senate. We all know how that turned out.

Welcome back to our fifth anniversary edition of LATE EDITION. We'll get to my interview with the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, shortly, but first this CNN News alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Still to come, Senator Jon Kyl and Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Hans Blix and Benjamin Netanyahu.

But up next, my interview with the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BUSH: I explained to people clearly that I was a reformer who had gotten positive results in my state of Texas, and I intended to take that same attitude of reforming to Washington.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'll tell you what, I'm going to work a lot harder at pointing out that Governor Bush is -- if he is a reformer, I'm an astronaut.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: Then-Governor George W. Bush and Senator John McCain appearing on LATE EDITION in the midst of a bitter campaign for the Republican presidential nomination back in February of 2000.

Welcome back to my fifth anniversary hosting LATE EDITION.

Here in Washington, the new 108th Congress is getting down to business and weighing in on the showdown with Iraq, the standoff with North Korea and much more.

Today, I spoke about all of that with the Senate's top Democrat, Tom Daschle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator Daschle, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Always good to have you on the program.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be here. Happy anniversary.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. Let's talk about what we just heard the secretary of state say because time is running out, not a whole lot of time left, although he wouldn't give a timetable. Has the administration, as far as you're concerned, made the case for the possibility of war?

DASCHLE: Well, Wolf, I think that administration needs to ensure that we do things right, not do things quickly, and doing things right means two things.

The president has to make a -- an absolute commitment that we will show that there is compelling imminent danger to the United States before we act militarily, number one.

And, number two, I think it's very critical that we've got to show that we've exhausted every diplomatic option and that we're living under the obligations of the U.N. resolution. That also is critical, if we're going to take any action beyond what we've seen so far.

BLITZER: How convinced are you up to now that the Iraqis are not cooperating with the inspectors, and, as a result, there's a justification for war?

DASCHLE: Well, I think they've left a lot of gray area here. I think that, to a certain extent, you've seen them cooperate, you've seen them give access, but, clearly, they haven't done everything they can.

And, as a result, I think, because of that, the international community is clearly more in favor of putting great pressure on Iraq to do the right thing, to comply with the U.N. obligation than to go to war today.

I think it's critical that we stay with that U.N. coalition, that we do all that we can to ensure that we don't act unilaterally here, that we aren't the red coats, if you will, of the modern day.

BLITZER: Do you believe that the Bush administration should seek a second U.N. Security Council resolution before authorizing war?

DASCHLE: Well, there are a lot of ways to ensure that the U.N. is supporting the efforts made by the United States and its coalition. I don't know that it's a requirement that a -- that it be a resolution, but, clearly, there has to be very clear evidence of U.N. support, of international coalition support before we take any military action.

BLITZER: But you have confidence in the inspectors, Hans Blix, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, how they're doing, what they're doing. Do you think that they are achieving the results they were supposed to achieve?

DASCHLE: Well, I don't know that they're achieving the results that we expected at least to date, but that's why they need more time. I think that 27th of January report is going to be critical. But, beyond that, I think we've got to do what they've suggested, give them the time to complete their work, to do their job, to ensure that they can satisfy the international community that this effort has exhausted -- has been exhausted before we even consider any other action or alternative approach.

BLITZER: You saw these large-scale demonstrations here in Washington yesterday, elsewhere around the United States against the possibility of war. Does that momentum against the war seem -- is it growing?

DASCHLE: Well, I don't know that it's growing. I think it's becoming more vocal. Obviously, there has always been a great deal of sentiment in opposition to war in Iraq for a lot of reasons, many of them very understandable. I think that, obviously, as we get closer and closer to the prospect of war, you're going to see more vocal opposition.

BLITZER: And where do you stand as far as that opposition is concerned, the Democrats in the U.S. Senate? Are they with this president right now or against the president?

DASCHLE: Well, I think that it's -- they're with ensuring that we deal with Iraq in the most appropriate way. I don't think there's any question we know that Iraq poses serious threat to the world and especially to the region.

The question now is: Is there sufficient evidence to suggest that we take military action? My view is that the president has to make that case. And, secondly, he has to do it in the context of the United Nations and the international community.

BLITZER: And he hasn't made the case yet? That's what you're saying.

DASCHLE: That's my view. That's correct.

BLITZER: And what -- and specifically you want to see hard intelligence showing what?

DASCHLE: Well, there -- there really are two goals here.

One is to destroy -- first find and then destroy weapons of mass destruction. That's what the inspectors are doing today.

The second, of course, is to ensure that there is some kind of a regime change over a period of time.

DASCHLE: Both of those goals, I think, are legitimate, given the threat that Iraq poses to the world community. The question is how do you do it and over what time period. That really is the essence of the challenge that the United States faces.

I don't think that we ought to rush to judgment about how we do that. I think it's incredibly important, though, for us to do that always in the context of a multilateral coalition and the United Nations specifically.

BLITZER: You've accused the administration of sort of flip- flopping when it comes to North Korea, the policies in North Korea that perhaps inadvertently helped create this current crisis that the U.S. has with North Korea. Explain what exactly you mean by that.

DASCHLE: Well, I think it appears to be a position a week. You know, there seems to be a very disconcerting direction that -- with fits and starts that send all the wrong messages, not only to Korea, but to countries all over the world.

I think that it's very unclear what the administration's position is. We saw it again just in the last 24 hours with regard to food aid to North Korea.

But the question now is what should be our goal. And our goal ought to be clearly that we do all that we can to dismantle their nuclear assembly line and that we do it in the context of a larger effort in the region, with China, with Japan, with South Korea, and that we send as clear an intent as we possibly can to the North Koreans that we have no hostile intentions.

If we can do that, then I think we will have accomplished something. But it has to be through direct talks.

BLITZER: There seems to be one strategy in dealing with Iraq, another strategy in dealing with North Korea. Do you support these two different, very different strategies?

DASCHLE: Well, I think it does require different strategies. The Clinton administration did that in the '90s, and the Bush administration was reluctant to do that.

For a while, as you may recall, Wolf, it seemed like they were taking one strategy. This axis of evil appeared to be the same strategy regardless of circumstances, claiming that both Iran and Iraq on one side and Korea on the other all pose the same exact threat to the United States and require the same response.

Well, they found that that can't work. They've got to tailor their response. It's just that they've done it in such a haphazard and conflicting way, with all kinds of conflicting messages about what their position truly is, that I think it's left people with a lot of confusion and some concern about the consistency of foreign policy with regard to Korea in particular.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some important issues that came up this past week, including affirmative action. The president speaking out, saying the University of Michigan's policy is unconstitutional. Listen precisely to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Quota systems that use race to include or exclude people from higher education and the opportunities it offers are divisive, unfair, and impossible to square with the Constitution. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you support or oppose the president's stance in going before the Supreme Court, his administration, and arguing that the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies are unconstitutional?

DASCHLE: Wolf, he's just wrong. He says he's for diversity, but I think his diversity -- he's for diversity by accident, however he can bring it about without taking any real direct action.

What the University of Michigan is saying is that, as you consider all different criteria, whether it's your athletic prowess or where you're from or, you know, a number of factors involving your economic background, that race should be among those factors, and I think they were absolutely right in doing so.

We've got to ensure diversity in this country. We have to ensure equal opportunity. And that's all Michigan is saying. We're not talking about quotas here. We're not talking about some mandated formula. We're simply saying that race ought to be in the mix, if you truly want diversity in this country today.

BLITZER: Well, this is a question a lot of people ask. Why should the University of Michigan give 20 extra points, as far as the application process is concerned, to a son or a daughter of an affluent person who happens to be black who went to elite schools? Why should that young kid get an extra 20 points in the application process?

DASCHLE: Well, you know, I guess the question would be then why should anybody get four or five points for just being the son or daughter of? Why should that be a factor? Why should your athletic prowess matter? What we're saying is why shouldn't that fact that you are a member of the minority be a consideration as you consider diversity. BLITZER: So what you're saying is that the legacy issue -- if you're a son or daughter of someone who graduated from that university and gave a lot of money to the university, he or she should not have any extra benefit.

DASCHLE: Well, that -- you know, I think it may have helped President Bush in getting into Yale. He was a son of at that time, and it didn't hurt there, and he got in, and I think he was able to show that he could be a student of standing.

You know, all we're simply saying is that, look, there are a lot of different factors that ought to be considered as you really strive to achieve diversity in our society and especially on campus, races among them.

We know that the University of Texas has failed miserably since they've eliminated their affirmative action. African-American admissions in law school have dropped 88 percent. Hispanic admissions have dropped 64 percent, Wolf.

So, clearly, the alternative that President Bush has proposed has failed. Now what we're trying to do is to find alternatives that can succeed, and I think the Michigan case is one good example.

BLITZER: Let's talk about very briefly tax cuts for a second. Twelve Democrats the last time around, 2001, supported the president's tax cuts. Do you think you'll be able to hold all the Democrats on your side of the aisle this time that, when the president's pushing these new tax-cut proposals?

DASCHLE: Well, one thing we know for sure, because they've already spoken out, is that a good number of Republicans have already expressed their opposition to the president's plan.

So I think we can build a strong bipartisan coalition, Republicans and Democrats, who point out that this is just as fallacious an approach to tax policy as anything the president's proposed to date.

It's wrong on several counts: stimulus, fairness, and recklessness. I think we can do a lot better.

BLITZER: So you're going to fight this to the end?

DASCHLE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Any part of this plan you like?

DASCHLE: Oh, there's a lot of it that's targeted directly toward the middle class, and that's what we've said, where we really ought to put our emphasis. I say a lot...

BLITZER: But the elimination of the taxes on dividends, that you're going to...

DASCHLE: That's a disaster.

BLITZER: That's the big issue as far as you're concerned?

DASCHLE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Any buyer's remorse, as far as you're concerned, your decision not to run for president?

DASCHLE: Not at all, Wolf. I'm so at peace with my decision, confident it was the right decision for now, and we'll just continue to do the job that I love doing, representing my state and acting as my leader in the, as the leader in the Democratic caucus.

BLITZER: Is there any of the Democratic candidates you seem to be moving toward that you like more than the others?

DASCHLE: No. They're all good friends, and I think they'll do an outstanding job. We're lucky to have the talent and the caliber of candidates that are already presenting themselves to the American people, and we couldn't be in a better position in that regard. BLITZER: So you're not going to endorse a Lieberman or an Edwards or a Kerry or anyone right now?

DASCHLE: I don't expect that I will. No, Wolf.

BLITZER: You're going to stay out of it?

DASCHLE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: This notion of Kerry and Edwards, for example, missing votes in the Senate this week because they were out campaigning, how serious of a problem is that going to be, because a lot of Senate Democrats seem to be running?

DASCHLE: Well, I think that they will come back if their vote will make a difference, and we'll just have to weigh those. In no case this week did that vote make a difference in terms of the outcome, and in those cases I'm sure that if I called them they'll be back just as soon as travel allowed.

And I believe that we can work around it. That's just a factor of presidential campaigns, and you have to work around it, and I know we can.

BLITZER: Senator Daschle, thanks for joining us.

DASCHLE: My pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Up next, we'll talk with two of Senator Daschle's colleagues, Republican Jon Kyl and Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

Our special fifth anniversary LATE EDITION will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now are two key members of the United States Senate. In his home state of Arizona, Republican Senator Jon Kyl. He chairs the Senate's Republican Policy Committee, was a member of the Intelligence Committee in the last Congress. In San Francisco, California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. She's currently serving on the Intelligence Committee, among others.

Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION. It's good to have both of you on the program.

And I'll ask both of you the key question. I'll ask you, Senator Kyl, first. Is war with Iraq inevitable?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: It all depends. It's Saddam Hussein's call. He was required by the United Nations to come clean. He hasn't done that. He has precious little time to do that, as the president has pointed out.

So it all depends upon on whether he is willing to finally abide by the requirement that he divulge the weapons of mass destruction that we know he has, and enable the United States and other of the United Nations to dismantle those weapons in a verifiable way.

BLITZER: There was a pretty big demonstration in San Francisco yesterday, Senator Feinstein. I'll read you a poll that we asked: Is war Iraq inevitable? 63 percent of the American public, according to the CNN-Time poll, said yes. 31 percent said no.

What do you say?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think this: I think people came from all over northern California yesterday. It was one of the largest demonstrations San Francisco has had in many, many years.

I think increasingly, the American people now are becoming aware of the specifics. And I think that increasingly Americans do not want the United States of America unilaterally to attack another nation.

I believe that they want the president to carry out his pledge. And that is, if you have to resort to war, the United States will lead a coalition of the willing. That's what the president has said over and over again. Additionally, many of us voted to authorize use of force only when the president went to the United Nations, only when Secretary Powell made the point that we were going to be an active part of the Security Council in compelling compliance.

Finally, we now know that there is an effort going on, led by other nations, to move Saddam Hussein out of Iraq to prevent a war and give him amnesty in another nation.

Iraq, I do not believe, is an imminent threat on this nation. I believe a much more imminent threat to peace and stability in Asia is North Korea.

BLITZER: Well, we'll get to North Korea, Senator Feinstein, in a moment, but let me let Senator Kyl weigh in.

It sounds like Senator Feinstein is saying, you got to let this process run a lot longer and give the inspectors more time, get the other members of the Security Council on board.

But I'm not sure -- and maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong, Senator Kyl -- if President Bush has that kind of patience. He says time is running out.

KYL: Well, how long? It's been 11 years since the end of the Persian Gulf War when Saddam Hussein made all these promises. For a long time nobody bothered to try to enforce them. President Bush came to power and finally said, "Look, you've promised that you would get rid of these weapons. We know you are trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. And somebody has got to call you to task to get you to comply with the agreements that you promised that you would comply with."

The United Nations finally woke itself up and said, "Well, we guess you're right. We do need to give him a chance, one last chance, to abide by the resolutions and the agreements they made at the end of the Gulf War." As Secretary Powell said this morning, the state of war with Iraq has really never ended. This is unfinished business. This isn't attacking another country. This is getting another country to comply with the promise it made at the end of the Gulf War portion of this conflict.

And so far, nobody has been willing to do that except President Bush. What he's doing is calling upon the United Nations now to give one last chance to Saddam Hussein, which it's been willing to do. But the president has reserved the right, if Saddam doesn't come clean, at some point to enforce those commitments.

BLITZER: If the Iraqis are not fully cooperating, Senator Feinstein, and not doing everything that they should be doing proactively to help the inspectors, there are plenty of administration officials who believe that's another material breach and another justification for war.

Do you accept that argument?

FEINSTEIN: Well, one of the things that concerns me as a member of the Intelligence Committee is, none of this new intelligence has been shared with us, certainly since we went out prior to the Christmas break. And I'm very concerned by that.

I think that having the Security Council concur with any military action is critical for America's standing in the world. I think it is critical to give the kind of justification that is really necessary to wage this kind of war.

I have great respect for Jon Kyl. He knows that. We worked together on a number of different things. But respectfully, it's been over a decade since the Gulf War. There is no evidence that Iraq has an imminent threat, is an imminent threat against the United States. And there is no evidence that there is any connection between al Qaeda and 9/11 and Iraq.

BLITZER: All right, Senators, stand by for a moment. I want both of you to rejoin us, but we have to take a quick commercial break.

In our next hour of LATE EDITION, we'll continue our conversations with Senators Kyl and Feinstein.

We'll also talk with one of the very first guests I ever had on LATE EDITION when I was hosting this program, the Israeli foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. We'll also have a special interview with the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix.

All that and much more, coming up on this fifth anniversary edition of LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll continue our conversation with Senators Kyl and Feinstein in just a few moments. We'll also go live to Jerusalem and speak with the Israeli foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But first, a CNN news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Now more of our conversation with Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and John Kyl of Arizona. They're joining me live.

Let me show you, Senator Kyl, an advertisement that a group has put out opposing the war, very reminiscent of that earlier so-called "daisy" advertisement that was run against Barry Goldwater here in the United States in 1964. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: War with Iraq. Maybe it'll end quickly, maybe not. Maybe it will spread.

Maybe extremists will take over countries with nuclear weapons.

Maybe the unthinkable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's obviously a very powerful advertisement.

Do you get the sense that the anti-war movement in the United States is growing right now?

KYL: Don't know. That ad was unfair to President Bush, just as the "daisy" ad was unfair to Barry Goldwater.

Wolf, let me make this point. Your piece just a moment ago at the top of the news talked about the Iraqis shooting at American pilots and American pilots shooting back.

That's a smoking gun, in my book. That's an imminent threat, in my book. When people say that there's no imminent threat here, tell that to the pilots or to the wives or sweethearts or mothers of those pilots who are flying every day, according to United Nations resolutions, to try to inspect what is on the ground below them.

These are reconnaissance flights, and Saddam Hussein's people are shooting, at his orders, at these aircraft. They've downed...

BLITZER: Well, why doesn't the Bush administration...

KYL: Let me just finish here. They've downed an unmanned aircraft or two. So far we've been fortunate that they haven't downed any of these piloted aircraft.

But my point is, there is armed conflict going on there that is against the United Nations resolutions by Saddam Hussein's people today. So deciding to finally enforce these resolutions is not something I think that needs to wait some other kind of attack or smoking gun.

BLITZER: I was there at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago, Senator Kyl. I met with those pilots who are patrolling the so-called no-fly zone in southern Iraq. And they -- many of them privately suggest that the war, for them at least, has already started.

The question is this: Why isn't the Bush administration, if you're right, going to the Security Council and claiming material breach, the simple fact that these U.S. and British pilots are being fired on?

KYL: Don't know. It seems to me that that's part of what's at stake here. I think that would be a very appropriate thing to do.

And I also think it's appropriate to listen to what Secretary Powell said this morning and what Secretary Rumsfeld said this morning. The inspectors are not going to go to Iraq and find all kinds of things unless they get very, very lucky. The burden of proof is on Saddam Hussein, not on the inspectors.

And, therefore, whether the resolutions are enforced depend not on whether those inspectors get lucky but on whether Saddam Hussein finally decided to fess up. And that is why...

BLITZER: Let me let Senator...

KYL: ... I said at the beginning, it'll be his decision as to whether there's conflict.

BLITZER: Let me let Senator Feinstein weigh in.

Do you think the Iraqis shooting at these U.S. and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones, in and of itself, is that a violation of Iraq's commitments to the cease-fire agreements, the U.N. Security Council resolutions?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I do think it's a violation. I also think it's been going on for a number of years, so it's nothing new.

I think this is the main point: Real war is devastating. Real war is unpredictable. War always kills. You've got to accept that there's an evil nature to war, and I do.

So if war can be prevented, let's prevent it. If diplomacy can work, give it an opportunity. If the arms inspectors can de-escalate and force compliance and the United Nations as well, why not? What's the rush?

BLITZER: All right. Well, that's a fair point, but let me move on and ask Senator Kyl this question based on an editorial that appeared this past week in the newspaper USA Today on Wednesday.

They wrote this: "With weapons inspectors working busily in Iraq and military forces arrayed against him, Saddam presents no immediate danger. A war now also could distract needed attention from the North Korea crisis and the war on al Qaeda-linked terrorism."

What do you make of that editorial in USA Today?

KYL: First, let me say I don't like to disagree with my very good friend, Senator Dianne Feinstein. This happens to be a matter in which we have some difference of opinion.

Question, when do you know when it's imminent? Just set aside the fact that they're shooting at our pilots today and any day they could down one and kill one of them, then would that be enough?

But disregard that for a moment. How do we know when they turn the last screw on that atomic weapon? I served on the Intelligence Committee for eight years, and our intelligence is not quite that good. We know that he's rushing hard to try to get a nuclear capability, that he is building biological and chemical weapons and has missiles with which to deliver those.

So how carefully do we need to try to calibrate this before we enforce resolutions of the United Nations and make him agree to the commitments that he made 11 years ago?

I understand the point that one should avoid war if possible. But it's the same argument that was made before the Persian Gulf War, when the cry was "Give the sanctions more of a chance." Well, I'm glad that we finally decided we'd had enough of the sanctions and decided to try to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

There comes a point in time when you have to get serious about the U.N. resolutions and the other commitments that are made around the world or they have no meaning at all and all you do is embolden further dictators to do things that nobody wants them to do.

BLITZER: Let me let Senator Feinstein respond to that.

Go ahead, Senator.

FEINSTEIN: Actually, I agree with what Senator Kyl has just said. I think that's correct. However, I think leadership carries with it a different kind of imprimatur.

I think leadership carries with it the ability to convince fellow nations, allies, if you will, that we have a common cause, that Saddam Hussein must be taken down, that a new government must be grown in that country and that Saddam Hussein will not, will not conform to United Nations resolutions.

Now, history has indicated that much of that is true. But to date, we do not have the willing coalition that the president has pledged. So I think diplomacy still has a way to go. I think the Saudi effort to try to put together an amnesty and move Saddam Hussein and the top leadership out should be given time to work.

Now, fortunately, both Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Powell have said that the decision has not yet been made. I trust that's correct.

I think that they're doubling the number of arms inspectors. They're moving much more rapidly now. Certainly, more than a couple hundred sites have been visited. There are many hundred more sites to look at. I say give that process a little bit more time. Don't rush to judgment when the judgment is going to mean perhaps things that we can't even contemplate at the present time.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Feinstein, I got to end it right there, unfortunately. Senator Kyl, thanks to both of you for joining us. Always good to have both of you on LATE EDITION. Appreciate it very much.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, Israel's foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He was one of my first guests on LATE EDITION five years ago. We'll ask him about the conflict in the Middle East, how a showdown with Iraq will affect his country, and the upcoming elections in Israel.

Much more coming up, this special LATE EDITION. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: If the U.S. and Iraq engage in a second war, there's concern about the impact on the crisis in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

One of my first guests on LATE EDITION five years ago was Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel's prime minister. Here is some of what he had to say then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: I think it would be a very grave mistake on Iraq's part to fire missiles at Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And joining us now, exactly five years later, from Jerusalem is the Israeli foreign minister, Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Foreign Minister, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Always good to have you on our program, as well.

I want to begin with the situation involving Iraq, which is on the minds, of course, of so many people around the world. How much of a threat does Saddam Hussein, in your opinion, represent to Israel?

NETANYAHU: Well, quite significant, because he is developing or attempting to develop atomic weapons. He has already developed chemical and biological weapons. And he's got the missiles to fire them. So naturally Israel is his first target of choice, but not his last. He is a threat to Israel, but he's a threat not only to Israel.

BLITZER: A lot of people don't really believe that whatever number of Scud missiles he has perhaps in the western part of Iraq represent a real serious threat, that Israel is more than capable of dealing with that threat. Is that a fair assessment?

NETANYAHU: Well, we hope so, but we can't be sure. It is true that he has only a limited number of missiles left. It is also true that we have put in place better systems to intercept those missiles in case they are fired. They include not only the American Patriot Missiles but the Israel Arrow Missile, which is a most advanced anti- missile system in the world.

But we cannot be sure that one missile or maybe more than one would not get through. And we cannot completely rule out that it would have a nonconventional warhead, biological or chemical. And of course, the significance of that could be quite important.

So we're taking all the necessary actions to defend our population and to intercept that missile. And we hope that this will succeed or perhaps that it won't be necessary. Saddam may leave.

BLITZER: Exactly five years ago -- we played that little clip of what you said here on LATE EDITION -- you said it would be a grave mistake on Iraq's part to fire missiles at Israel.

How grave a mistake would it be? What would Israel do if more Scuds landed on populated or perhaps even unpopulated areas of Israel?

NETANYAHU: I think that Israel has made it clear that we have the right, which is really the obligation, the first obligation of any state, any government, to defend its people against attack, and obviously we reserve that right. So I don't think that it's prudent to go beyond that.

I will say that I think, at this point, the problem of Saddam's firing those missiles is not one of any kind of ploy, any kind of tactic that he would make. It would be the last act during the last gasp of a dying regime. And I think we have to assume that whatever he's got, he'll fire.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to try to prevent those missiles from getting here. And the second best thing to do is to make sure that our population is protected with all the means available against these kinds of attacks. And we've taken both measures.

BLITZER: And you believe the Iraqis still have a capability of putting chemical or biological agents in those Scud missile warheads?

NETANYAHU: Well, they might. And we cannot rule it out, and that's precisely the problem. If we could rule it out, I think that the whole question would be resolved. That is, it would still be left to -- as an American decision of whether to actually join forces there.

But assuming that was the case, I think it's a foregone conclusion that there will be an American victory, and probably a fairly rapid one by my guess.

But the one unknown is what will be fired and what it will contain. And the truth of the matter is that none of us know for sure.

BLITZER: Do you accept the notion the prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, suggested that there were reports that he was trying to confirm or working on that the Iraqis may have transferred some of their weapons of mass destruction to Syria? Is that something that's of serious concern? How good are these intelligence reports that you're looking into?

NETANYAHU: There's no question that Iraq has transferred material into Syria, no question whatsoever. Those intelligence reports are solid. That, I think, has more to do with Syria's policies than Iraq, because Syria itself has chemical and other forms of missiles trained at Israel.

So it's more a -- this is more of an exchange between the Damascus regime and Saddam's regime. And it reflects, I think, on Syria. It doesn't so much reflect on our own security, because we're in Syrian missile range anyway. And of course Syria knows that should it fire missiles into Israel, the consequences would be, if I can repeat myself from an earlier era, very, very, very grave indeed. And Syria is just around the corner.

So I think that's not the issue. The issue is that there is obviously some very close cooperation going on between Saddam Hussein and the regime in Damascus.

BLITZER: Well, what kind of weapons, do you believe, what kind of material have been transferred to Syria from Iraq?

NETANYAHU: Well, obviously material that is sufficiently important for Iraq to move into Syria, either because it doesn't want this to be found or because it wants to have those in reserve. Could be one of several possibilities, but none of them are good.

BLITZER: As you remember, 12 years ago when you were, I believe, at that time the deputy foreign minister during the first Gulf War, a lot of our viewers around the world saw you in a gas mask in the CNN bureau.

Do you envisage that that kind of situation, that kind of scenario, Israelis putting on gas masks, might once again develop?

NETANYAHU: I hope not, but we can't completely rule it out, so every Israeli citizen is kitted with these gas masks and other forms of protection.

I hope it won't come to that, but I think the United States is stressing the very important principle. And, you know, here we are talking now for several minutes about Israel and the possibility that Israel might be attacked, so Israel is literally on the front lines and if anyone is attacked, it's most likely going to be my country.

And yet I can tell you that there is solid support across the people, across the political spectrum, just virtually all of it, for any decision that President Bush might decide to take against Iraq, because we know that it's just a question of time before he acquires nuclear weapons.

We know that he might use those weapons or he might use them as an umbrella for al Qaeda-type operations, because once he's got that kind of protection, these kinds of dictators who know no limits can indulge in any kind of atrocity, in any kind of direct or indirect attacks against our societies.

So I think it's always a difficult thing to act preemptively. Israel faced that conundrum when it decided to preemptively strike out Iraq's nuclear bomb factory in 1981.

And, similarly, I think that President Bush should be credited for moving ahead, despite international criticism, with what is right. And what is right is to make sure that these rogue regimes, who know no limits to the use of force, do not acquire the weapons of mass death.

BLITZER: Foreign Minister, the elections in Israel, a week from Tuesday, the polls show that your Likud Party widely expected to win, Ariel Sharon remaining as prime minister.

What do you do next, though, as far as trying to revive a peace process with the Palestinians? Because right now it doesn't look very upbeat.

NETANYAHU: Well, actually I'm very hopeful, because I think that the possibility of a resolution in Iraq, either by Saddam's departure, peaceful departure or by military means, I think it would actually send positive, seismic shockwaves into the Middle East.

I think it will set forth the principle that tyrants and dictators have no place, that those who engage in terror or are trying to accumulate the weapons of mass terror are not going to be tolerated.

And I think that if we replicate what appears to be one possible Iraqi model, namely you remove the tyrant and you come in with an economic package of economic reconstruction on the one hand and political and educational reform on the other, I think if that is applied vis-a-vis the Palestinians, as well, I think it would produce positive leadership, a more responsible leadership with whom we can make peace.

BLITZER: Mr. Foreign Minister, unfortunately we have to leave it right there. As usual, thanks very much for joining us. Always good to have you on the program.

NETANYAHU: Thank you. Congratulations. BLITZER: Thank you very much. Thanks, Mr. Foreign Minister.

NETANYAHU: Congratulations, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

U.N. inspectors find empty warheads in Iraq. What are the implications? We'll speak with Hans Blix, the chief U.N. inspector, when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We do not trust that Mr. Blix and his group are going to bring a conclusion within a reasonable time so that the United States and everybody in the world should know that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, commenting on the prospect of U.N. inspections in Iraq just a few months ago right here on CNN's LATE EDITION.

Welcome back. We'll get to my interview with the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, in just a few moments, but first, a CNN news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: The Bush administration is describing this week's discovery of empty chemical warheads by U.N. inspectors in Iraq as, quote, "interesting and troubling."

Earlier today, I spoke with the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, about the implications of that discovery and the inspectors' ongoing mission.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Dr. Blix, thanks so much for taking a few moments out to speak to us. I know you've already started meeting with Iraqi officials.

Based on everything you know right now, can you say that the Iraqi government is fully cooperating with your U.N. weapons inspectors?

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, they are helpful in terms of giving prompt access and to give access to all sites that we wanted to see. But we would like to see them more helpful on a number of other points.

We have had some problems lately. We wanted to send the U-2 plane across the country, and they say that this is violating their sovereignty and they'd like to state a number of conditions for it. We also wanted, yesterday, to fly up with helicopter into the no- fly zones, and the Iraqis insisted on sending their own helicopters alone into the zone. And our helicopter pilots felts that was too dangerous, so we had to cancel the flight.

I do not see any particular reason why they should have to send up their own helicopters. In the past, they did not do so. We are ready to take their minders along on our -- in our helicopter.

So, it's not free from problems.

We also had a visit to a private house the other day, and the owner, a nuclear scientist, was against our visiting the house. But nevertheless, it took place. We persuaded them. And we visited because we had suspicions that there were documents in the house. And lo and behold, there were about 3,000 pages, which we took. They concerned -- a lot of them concerned nuclear, some concerning missiles.

So it really confirmed our suspicion that there could have been documents around. They had not been declared. They should have been declared. Some of them were secret. And we think that we may do further investigations of further inspections of private houses.

BLITZER: So how significant are these problems that you're talking about and include also these 11 or 12 empty chemical warheads that your inspectors found this week. Is this a serious problem or are these just minor irrelevant problems?

BLIX: Well, we talked to the Iraqis today, and they said that they had been surprised themselves. These things were laying in boxes. They had never been opened. They were covered by bird droppings, so they'd been there for some time. But they had never been opened, actually, and they were in excellent conditions.

They were from pre-1990, so at the time when they were able to have these things legally. But of course, they should have been properly declared and, in fact, destroyed.

Now, the Iraqis claimed this was an oversight, and they are saying that they're looking for more of them. In fact, they said they have found four more, and they might find even further in the future.

The question we have to ask ourselves is: Are these just sort of remnants left of a program of the past, or are they tips of an iceberg? Is it part of a design which have kept munitions in which they can fit chemical weapons in the future? This has to be explored and discussed with them.

BLITZER: How much longer do you think it will take for you to make that determination, whether it's just an oversight or a tip of the iceberg?

BLIX: Well, it's hard to say. I usually say that if they cooperate fully with us, in all respects, then I think the whole exercise could be relatively fast, a number of months. But if they do not cooperate, we know that UNSCOM, the preceding organization, they were there from '91 to '98. So lack of cooperation will lead us nowhere.

We, of course, tell the Iraqis that they are, in our view, in grave danger, that the situation is tense, and that they should do their utmost in order to cooperate and to give the best conditions for us to work.

There are lots of open questions from the past which they have not properly explained. They claim they have, but in our view they have not.

We on our side are not saying that we have evidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. If we had that, we would have taken it to the Security Council. Some intelligence agencies on the U.S. side and UK side claim they have evidence, and maybe they put it on the table. We do not. We have open questions, and we are trying to press upon the Iraqis to give us either documents, if they don't have any documents, at least they should be positive to interviews.

And that has been another contentious issue. We have tried several persons, several scientists here in Baghdad to come for private interviews with us with no minder so that there could be no intimidation, and they have declined. They have said they would only want to be in their own surroundings and have presence of Iraqi officials, and that, of course, would reduce the credibility of the interviews. We think they should give way on this and let their citizens speak directly to us without any minder present.

BLITZER: Your understanding of January 27th, a week from tomorrow, when you have to make this report to the U.N. Security Council, what is the significance of January 27th? Because, as you know, a lot of U.S. officials, Bush administration officials think that's the beginning of the end as far as the inspection process is concerned.

BLIX: Well, under the resolution that was adopted last autumn, we are to provide an update -- that is the word in the resolution, not a report, an update -- after the two first months of experience.

And that's what we are going to do, in as nuanced and as factual a manner as possible. We are not playing any politics. We are trying to give an honest assessment, an honest description of what has taken place in these two months.

It is for the Council to decide where they go thereafter. I'm not advising any member of the government, of the Council. I'm advising the Council as a whole.

It may be that they will want us to continue. We would. We are built up in order to be there. I gave a quarterly report on the 1st of December. That was at a time when the new resolution was adopted, and the next quarter report would be on the 1st of March.

But evidently the Council can take a decision at any moment. And if we were to find some weapon of mass destruction, some drastic discovery, I would report immediately. Even as I am here, I would phone the president of the Security Council. We have not done so because we haven't had such any drastic discovery yet.

BLITZER: You seem to be suggesting that you're working under both these more recent U.N. Security Council resolutions, 1441, which was passed of course late last year, but an earlier one that was passed, I believe, either in '98 or '99 that suggested other 60 days after January 27th might be required for you to come up with a final report. That seems to put you at odds somewhat with the Bush administration.

What exactly is your understanding of your mandate?

BLIX: Well, they are impatient, and I think the world is impatient, to get results out of Iraq. And they don't want to get back to a situation where inspections would be routine and that we would play cat-and-mouse again, nor do I want that.

I think that the signal we got last autumn was that cat-and-mouse game was over, and I think the Iraqis should be aware of that, that we need to push on very fast.

At the same time, I am taking the instructions from the Security Council. And there are lots of resolutions -- there is one beginning in '91, which started the whole thing and initiated the inspections, and there are many resolutions in between. And they are guiding us, all of us.

Most of them are easily reconcilable. I would say that, between the one took last autumn and the one that was taken in 1991 and which actually establishes UNMOVIC, yes, there are some discrepancies, but I think that in the Council they will be able to reconcile these differences.

And we, of course, are very dependent upon having a united Council. If the Council is divided, then the inspectors don't have much power. We need a council that is united.

BLITZER: Dr. Blix, let's get back for a moment to those scientists, Iraqi scientists, others that you would like to interview. The Iraqis are accusing your inspectors of engaging in what they call Mafia-like behavior.

How determined are you to try to bring these scientists, their relatives, outside of Iraq for questioning?

BLIX: Well, we would invite them to go abroad, as the resolution authorizes us to do. But, of course, we are not forcing anybody. We are not dragging anybody anywhere.

The same goes here in Baghdad. If someone refuses to come to us, we'll take note of it.

And if it is a pattern, well, then we will tell the Security Council about that. I mean, if they all declined to come to us, the suspicion is close at hand that they have obeyed some instruction or have been told to do so. And I don't think that will play into the -- be favorable to the Iraqi government. So I think they should be cooperative.

BLITZER: What is your definition, Dr. Blix, of a smoking gun?

BLIX: Well, if we were to find a big supply of biological weapons, that would be a smoking gun, although it doesn't look like one. If we were to find chemical weapons, that would also be a smoking gun. If we find missiles that can run 200 kilometers, well, that would also be a smoking gun.

If you only find documents that indicate something, well, that's not so smoking. Although a drawing of a nuclear weapon, I think, was once characterized as a smoking gun.

Much of it is more circumstantial than that. If you find, for instance, they have fuel for missiles and they claim there are no missiles, then you ask yourself, why is the fuel there?

BLITZER: As of this moment, is it fair to say you still have no smoking gun?

BLIX: Yes, I don't think I would have used that expression about any of the things that have happened the last few days.

But they are nevertheless serious matters, have to take them seriously. As I said, when we find chemical ammunitions for chemical weapons, we must ask ourselves, is this just one find, or are there lots of them all over the country hidden in various places?

We find documents that are secret in a private house of a scientist, we must ask, are they anywhere else? At the time when they are saying that they have no more documents.

BLITZER: If you were to conclude formally at the end of your process that the Iraqis did not fully cooperate, is that enough of a smoking gun that would justify your reporting to the U.N. Security Council further material breach by the Iraqis?

BLIX: Well, you see, we will provide a factual report to the Council of what we have said and what we have done and the conclusions we draw.

But the Council is (inaudible) as a tribunal. They are the ones who decide whether something has happened amounts to a material breach. That is not for me to decide, and I will not enter into that.

I will supply what evidence we have, what reports we have honestly, and then happily leave it or unhappily leave it to the Council.

BLITZER: Finally, Dr. Blix, because I know time is running out, are you satisfied with the level of intelligence information you're receiving from the U.S. government right now, as far as your inspections are concerned? BLIX: Well, at an earlier stage I felt that all the intelligence agencies we are cooperating with behaved a little like librarians and didn't want to lend out a book. But no longer. We do get intelligence, and we are acting upon it. And that is to the good.

BLITZER: Dr. Blix, good luck to you. Good luck to all your inspectors and to Dr. ElBaradei, as well. Thank you so much for joining us.

BLIX: Thank you very much. Nice to talk to you, although I regret we don't see you. Mostly I watch you, and today I hear you, but it would be nice to see you, too.

BLITZER: I'll be seeing you soon, I'm sure. Thank you very much, Dr. Blix.

BLIX: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And just ahead, as the White House maintains its hard line on Iraq, North Korea is seemingly becoming more defiant in its nuclear standoff. Will diplomacy be enough to resolve the stalemate?

We'll get special insight from the former Clinton secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, and the former Bush secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger.

Our special fifth anniversary of LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to help sort through the diplomatic challenges of both Iraq and North Korea are two special guests: in Charlottesville, Virginia, Lawrence Eagleburger. He served as secretary of state in the first Bush administration. And here in Washington, Madeleine Albright. She was secretary of state during the Clinton administration.

Welcome back to both of you.

And I'll begin with you, Secretary Albright. It looks like there's going to be a war. Do you get the sense there's any way that a war can be averted with Iraq?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first, let me congratulate you on your five years. I think it's great, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, thank you very much.

ALBRIGHT: I hope it can still be averted, though I must say that it looks a little bit as if we're about to go into some kind of like Holland Tunnel or a tunnel that it's hard to find any exits from. But I'm particularly kind of confused by some of the language as to whether the president has or has not made up his mind about war. But there are indications on one day that it's about to happen, other days that it is being delayed and that advice is being taken about spending more time trying to follow out the diplomatic string at the United Nations.

BLITZER: Secretary Eagleburger, how do you read the situation right now?

LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think it's likely that we will go to war.

But I don't -- I'm not bothered by the confusion. I think -- by the apparent confusion. I think it's a worthwhile thing for the administration to keep everybody guessing at this stage. Hopefully, this will produce something in the way of the kind of concessions from Saddam that will be necessary.

But in the end, I can't conceive of his doing what really will be necessary to keep us from going at him. So I'm pessimistic enough to believe that in the end we'll have to go to war.

BLITZER: You remember him very vividly. You were deputy secretary of state 12 years ago exactly during the first Gulf War, Secretary Eagleburger. At that time there was a lot of hope your boss, Secretary Baker, might be able to avert a war. Didn't happen then. What you're saying is, you don't think it's going to happen now?

EAGLEBURGER: I don't think it's in him. I don't think it's in him to make the kinds of concessions that would make it possible. And the time you talk about, Jim Baker in effect made some offers that if there'd been a brain in their heads, Saddam's and Tariq Aziz's, they would have accepted the offers and things might have been different. But they simply couldn't do it.

BLITZER: I want you to listen, Secretary Albright, to what the president said earlier this week, seemingly growing impatient with the current situation. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Time is running out. At some point in time, the United States' patience will run out. In the name of peace, if he does not disarm, I will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm Saddam Hussein.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Realistically, to our viewers in the United States and around the world watching right now, how much time do you think Saddam Hussein has to convince President Bush he's fully cooperating?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it's very hard to put that kind of a limit on it, because the president has been saying one thing in terms of time running out and patience kind of alternatively.

And I don't disagree with Larry about that it's nice to confuse the enemy. The problem is, it's confusing our friends and allies, and it's also clearly confusing to the American people.

So I do think that it's important for us to have some sense of whether we're going to war in a week or a month or in two or three months.

And I do think that time is limited and that Saddam Hussein has run out the clock a lot, but I also think that we need to give more time to the inspectors to be able to do the job. I thought Hans Blix was very persuasive in his interview with you.

BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment, basically, Secretary Eagleburger?

EAGLEBURGER: Up to a point. Again, I would like to see time given to the inspectors. But at the same time, there does come a point where time is not on our side here. And at some point, there's going to be a question of whether the president really means what in the end he has said, which is that at some point enough is going to be enough. And our confidence -- not our confidence so much, but the confidence of everybody else on whether we are a paper tiger is going to be an issue.

And so I'm saying, I would guess, if we don't have sufficient answers by, I would have earlier said by the 1st of February, I'm going to say by the end of February, I think we can't wait any longer than that.

BLITZER: U.S. credibility might be on the line, Secretary Albright? I know you're anxious to weigh in.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that's a very important point and is a problem in terms of the rhetoric that the president and some in the administration have used. Because our credibility is on the line, and you can't keep saying wolf, Wolf...

(LAUGHTER)

... and not have something really happen. And so the credibility issue is a big one. And this matter of kind of leveling, finding a time that is appropriate versus the time that our credibility is on the line, is very important.

BLITZER: You were one of the early critics, Secretary Eagleburger, raising questions about the wisdom of the entire strategy. I wonder if you've had a chance to rethink, perhaps, some of your earlier thoughts which generated, as you well remember, lots of commotion.

EAGLEBURGER: Well, Secretary Albright has in effect touched on where my concerns were. I thought the rhetoric at the beginning, particularly on this issue of all of the speeches by the vice president, sent, in fact, all the wrong signals. And this constant emphasis on he's either got a nuclear weapon or he almost has a nuclear weapon and then the president wouldn't say anything and the vice president was making all of these statements, I thought was setting a very bad case for us.

And my view was, at that point, that all of this talk this way, without any evidence that we wanted to talk to allies or go through the U.N., was, in fact, sending some very bad signals.

I think that's all been changed. I thought it really changed with the very good speech that the president gave to the U.N. now some two months ago, I think it was.

BLITZER: All right.

EAGLEBURGER: So since then, I think the administration's been on the right line. I really don't agree with Secretary Albright in terms of the rhetoric on the part of the administration since, because the rhetoric which the vice president was giving out in the early stages I thought really was wrong. I think he's now been pretty well silenced, and it's been a much different game since then.

So I don't have any problem now. You know, I obviously wish we didn't have to do this, but I must say I think now that Saddam has had his chance. I don't think he's going to give in. And under those circumstances, I don't think we have any alternatives but to go after him.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by to both of you, Secretary Albright, Secretary Eagleburger. We have to take a quick break.

We'll continue our discussion, also talk about the growing situation, the growing dangers involving North Korea. Plus, your phone calls. Our special LATE EDITION fifth-anniversary special will be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special LATE EDITION, live from Jerusalem...

BLITZER: ... from Africa...

BLITZER: ... from the library of the U.S. Naval Observatory...

BLITZER: ... from Beijing, China...

BLITZER: ... in Doha, in Qatar in the Persian Gulf...

BLITZER: ... from the Democratic National Convention here in Los Angeles...

BLITZER: ... from the Republican National Convention here in Philadelphia...

BLITZER: ... this is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk. (END VIDEO CLIPS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: No one wants war. We want to be very, very careful. And I have every confidence in my husband and in his administration that they will be very careful and very deliberate over this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The first lady, Laura Bush, sharing her thoughts about the prospect of war with Iraq on this program back in October.

Welcome back to our LATE EDITION fifth-anniversary special. We're talking with two former U.S. secretaries of state, Lawrence Eagleburger and Madeleine Albright.

And, Secretary Albright, let's just wrap up the Iraq before we go to North Korea, the whole situation.

Will the French, the Russians and the Chinese, the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, be with the United States and Britain if it comes down to a decision to go to war?

ALBRIGHT: I believe they will be, but it does require a lot of diplomacy and following out that diplomatic string. Because if we don't give Hans Blix the time, then that job becomes much harder.

And that is where -- Secretary Powell, I understand, is in New York. He is working this issue. And both Larry Eagleburger and I know that ultimately diplomacy is retail diplomacy, hard work, and I know and hope very much that this administration is doing that.

But I also think we just have to look at, Saddam Hussein should be indicted as a war criminal. I think we ought to look at that. We ought to look at different tightening sanctions. There are other steps here. He is somebody who killed his own people, trashed Kuwait. There are many more steps that we need to take with Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: So in order to avert a war, you wouldn't support giving him amnesty?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we have to be very careful, in terms of letting him off the hook. It's possible to try to figure out some way to give him some asylum, but I would not be very trusting of where he would go and what his future would be like.

BLITZER: What about that, Secretary Eagleburger? Do you think, in order to avoid a war, it might be a good idea to let him go someplace else, to Libya or some other third country, and live out his remaining days in peace and quiet?

EAGLEBURGER: I wouldn't be wild about it, but I suppose, if it avoided the war, I would be in favor of it. But I will bet you a dollar to a hole in a doughnut that he's never going to accept that.

BLITZER: Well, what about the prospect of some of his generals forming some sort of coup and overthrowing him and easing this crisis, or ending this crisis, in that fashion?

EAGLEBURGER: They may try it, but they'll all be dead before they get to him. I'll wager you that, as well.

I don't think there's much chance -- I hope I'm wrong again, but I don't think there's much chance that we're going to find some way to get Saddam off the podium, other than to kick him off by force.

BLITZER: And the Saudis, Secretary Albright, and the Turks and others apparently working behind the scenes desperately to do precisely that.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the word is "desperate," because they definitely do not want to have a war. I think that they can see a lot of the cost of a war in Iraq, great to them. They don't know what it will do to affect the populations in their countries, and I think they're trying very hard.

The Turkish issue, for instance -- we know that the population of Turkey according to late polls is very much opposed to having Turkey used for bases or for cooperation, while the regime is trying to be supportive of the United States.

So there are huge divisions within those societies, and they obviously would like to try to do everything to avoid having a war.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by.

We're going to ask both Secretary Eagleburger and Secretary Albright to continue to stay with us, but it's time to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.

Coming up for our North American audience, the next hour of LATE EDITION. We'll continue our discussion with the secretaries of state, and then the Reverend Al Sharpton and the conservative Ward Connerly will square off on affirmative action.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We'll continue our conversation with former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Laurence Eagleburger in just a moment, but first, this CNN news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Now we're going to continue our discussion with the former secretaries of state, Madeleine Albright and Laurence Eagleburger. Secretary Albright, you're one of the few Americans ever to have met with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. You spent, what, 12 hours with him at the end of the Clinton administration. What is this man all about?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think he is obviously a product of a completely totalitarian communist system where he and his father have been glorified for half a century.

But he is not uninformed. He is isolated, but not uninformed. He watches CNN. He has computers. And what he wants, I think, is to have some recognition within the international community and try to keep his decrepit regime together.

What troubles me is that we, in fact, have wasted two years in trying to figure out how to deal with him, because at the end of our administration, we were in the process of trying to work out verifiable agreements, trying to get some way to not have this kind of a crisis. We always knew that North Korea was dangerous. That was the basis of how we looked at our policies, what to do. And I am very sorry that the time has been wasted.

BLITZER: What about that, Secretary Eagleburger? You know this situation, the crisis with North Korea quite well. Have the last two years been wasted, in effect, pinning some of the burden of blame on the Bush administration for the current standoff?

EAGLEBURGER: I refuse to get into a political debate with my good friend, Secretary Albright. So the best I will say at this stage is, I don't agree with the wasted two years.

I will simply say that, in my judgment, we have spent too many years trying to buy off a regime that is the last Stalinist regime in the world, that has lied to us and to the world, that has made agreements and then broken them, that has taken our largess, if you will, in return for their promises, which they have then broken.

I thought that the process over the course of the previous eight years was wrong at the time. And I don't want to try to get into a debate with the secretary because I think we've had different views and I respect her for it.

But I think that this regime is a hideous regime. I do not think we can do business with it. They lie, they cheat. They have -- they have pressed their own people to the wall, all so that they can maintain a huge army. I'm sorry, I just don't think they can be dealt with.

BLITZER: All right. Well, let me bring back Secretary Albright on that.

There are plenty of critics out there for the Clinton administration -- and you were the U.N. ambassador, later the secretary of state -- who believed the president, Bill Clinton at that time, was snookered by the North Koreans, that they got this deal. The North Koreans never had any intention, Kim Jong Il, of ending his nuclear weapons program.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that certainly the main fault lies with Kim Jong Il. It doesn't lie with either President Bush or President Clinton. I would definitely restate that point and also restate the point that there is nobody that doesn't think they're a vicious, disgusting regime with a dictator who's starving his own people.

That does not mean that there are not times that one actually deals and has talks with those with whom we disagree this violently. We had discussions with Stalin. We had discussions with Mao. And the question is, what is it that one can do to make sure that this regime is not a danger to us?

And what I find interesting is the contrast between dealing with Iraq, that we don't know what they have, and dealing with North Korea, that we do know what they have.

And the agreed framework, while not perfect, in fact did freeze these weapons. And if they had not been -- if that had not been done in '94, they might have had somewhere between 50 and 100 nuclear weapons by now.

So I certainly don't want to have a political argument with Larry Eagleburger either, because I respect him. But I do think that we don't always have to agree, and dialogue is not appeasement.

BLITZER: How would you end this crisis right now, Secretary Eagleburger?

EAGLEBURGER: I can't end it right now. The fact of the matter is that the North Koreans have us at a disadvantage, because we are now, as we are -- we're dealing with the Iraq situation. And there's no question the North Koreans, in my judgment, have used that to play this game they're playing.

And, again, I'm not against talking with the North Koreans. Never have been. It is a difference between talking to them and making agreements with them that you know they aren't going to keep.

But I really don't want to get into this other than to say, right now, we have ourselves a messy problem, because we have to deal, I think, first of all, with the Iraq situation.

And I think what that means, as far as North Korea is concerned, we are going to have to play a different game than we are playing with Iraq. I don't think we can use the same standards with the two at this present moment, unless you want to end up potentially fighting a war in two parts of the world at the same time.

So I think we have to enter into discussions, not negotiations, but into discussions with the North Koreans. And I will tell you quite frankly -- and this is not necessarily what the administration is thinking and it may never be -- but for the moment, I think we have to put the North Korean issue on the back burner to a degree. Although I think in the long run, they are more dangerous to us all than are the Iraqis. But once we have the Iraq situation more or less under control, I'm quite frank to say to you that I think we have to turn our attention to the North Koreans and very, very definitely make it clear to them that we're not about to tolerate this sort of nonsense from them any longer.

BLITZER: On that note, unfortunately, we have to leave it, Secretary Eagleburger. Thank you very much for joining us. Secretary Albright, thanks as well to you. Hopefully we'll have you back many, many more times. Appreciate it very much.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

EAGLEBURGER: Congratulations on your five years, Wolf. I have to say that before you leave.

BLITZER: All right, that's great.

EAGLEBURGER: We'll see you five years from now, I hope.

BLITZER: And hopefully we'll see you many times over the next five years, and Secretary Albright as well. Thanks to both of you.

ALBRIGHT: Bye, Larry.

EAGLEBURGER: Bye, Madeleine.

BLITZER: All right.

And over the past five years, Bruce Morton has offered some insightful essays here on LATE EDITION. He now shares some thoughts on America's military role around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once, before World War II, the mainstream Republican Party was isolationist. It had kept the U.S. out of the League of Nations. It saw America sheltered from invasion by two big oceans. It remembered President Washington's warning against entangling foreign alliances.

Pearl Harbor changed all that. After the war, the U.S. joined the world, joined the United Nations, sponsored the Marshall Plan, and NATO and the Berlin airlift, and became an international power with the support of Republicans like Arthur Vandenberg.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. became the only superpower. Troops in country after country, the world's cop.

But the world keeps changing. Nuclear power has spread. Seven countries acknowledge having nukes: the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, Pakistan and India.

Israel is thought to be a nuclear power, though it has never confirmed nor denied that. The U.S. says North Korea has a nuke or two, so that's nine. Libya, Iraq and Iran are believed to be nuclear wannabes.

And the U.S. troops, those cops on the world beat, aren't always loved anymore. West Germany's chancellor got reelected by going anti- American. South Koreans, reports from there say, want the U.S. troops to leave, don't remember the Korean War, don't see the North as the enemy. And, of course, maybe nowadays they're right.

Will that debate start in American politics? No one would suggest the U.S. withdraw from the world. That's impossible. Trade, science, the Internet have created a world community, and economic success here depends on trade at high tech.

But somebody, some presidential candidate, could argue for bringing troops home from Europe, from Korea, argue for relying more on the United Nations or NATO for multilateral security solutions, while paying more attention to trade and aid.

Could argue, too, for stepping up research on missile defenses in case one of the growing number of nuclear powers lobs something our way.

It wouldn't be isolationism, but it would be a backing off from the world cop role. I don't know whether Republicans are more likely to suggest this more modest role for the U.S. or Democrats.

But as the number of nuclear powers increases, and as the Germans or the Koreans or the Saudis increasingly ask the cop to take his night stick and go home, it's a debate we are likely to have, if not in this election year, then maybe in the next.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bruce.

Up next, the White House has joined the debate over affirmative action. We'll delve into both sides of the issue with a Democratic activist, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and the chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, Ward Connerly.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON MANDELA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: I have expressed to him on countless occasions that Libya, Cuba, Iran are my friends. And I propose to honor the friendship whilst I welcome the friendship with the United State of America and other Western powers, which, at the time when we were struggling, were really helping our enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Former South African President Nelson Mandela on LATE EDITION back in March of 1998, explaining his reason for maintaining ties with certain U.S. foes.

Welcome back to our LATE EDITION fifth-anniversary special.

This week, the Bush administration took the step of filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action program. The administration's decision has reignited debate over whether affirmative action is an effective tool against racism, or a racist policy in and of itself.

Joining us now are two guests who view the issue quite differently: in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Democratic activist, the Reverend Al Sharpton. He's preparing for a 2004 presidential run. And in Sacramento, California, Ward Connerly. He's the chairman and founder of the American Civil Rights Institute, which opposes affirmative action.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Reverend Sharpton, let me play for you an excerpt of what President Bush said in explaining his decision. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I strongly support diversity of all kinds, including racial diversity in higher education. But the method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal is fundamentally flawed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Tell our viewers in a nutshell why you so strongly disagree with the president.

AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Because I think, first of all, the president's interpretation of the University of Michigan stand on this is wrong. I think that, first of all, they consider many things, among them race. It is not solely on race.

And just as they can say it is good to consider athletics, it's good to consider other things because it is good for the university, I think diversity is good for the university, based on the fact that, if there's not a proactive plan to have a diversified student body, it will not happen on its own.

He gives the picture like they just make this decision on race and there are no other factors. That is not true, and I don't think that that leads toward a good educational environment.

BLITZER: All right. Mr. Connerly, what do you say about that?

WARD CONNERLY, AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well, I find it kind of amusing, frankly, that we fought for legal equality back in the '60s, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids the government from treating people differently because of their race. And I know that Reverend Sharpton would have been those among those who would have applauded the '64 Civil Rights Act.

So it seems to me that, just because the government or somebody says that it's compelling for the government to take my race into account, what if they decide that it's not compelling or what if they decide that it's -- there's no educational value to having me there?

We have to take a stand in this country that race is not going to be used for or against any American citizen.

BLITZER: All right. Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: I think that's an extreme position. Even Condoleezza Rice and others that I may disagree with have said that certainly race can be a factor.

You know, tomorrow, Wolf, we're celebrating Martin Luther King's birthday. Martin Luther King said in that famous "I Have a Dream" speech that America has given blacks -- he said "negroes" -- a check marked "insufficient funds." Clearly he was saying that, as we seek a color-blind society, we must make up for what we have done to those of color.

I would suggest now that the check has been marked "stop payment" by the Bush administration. I think we still must collect on the check Dr. King talked about.

And it's very interesting to me that those that were not in the civil rights movement are trying to talk about what the movement wanted to do.

CONNERLY: Forty years...

BLITZER: Mr. Connerly, I was going to say -- I want you to respond to that, but we did hear Condoleezza Rice earlier today and the secretary of state, Colin Powell, both say that race should be a factor if you want to have a diverse population on university campuses.

CONNERLY: I respect them both. I think they have contributed enormously to this country. But that does not mean that they're immune from being wrong. And in this instance, they are fundamentally wrong.

It is not an extreme position to say that all Americans should be treated equally, Reverend Sharpton. I know that if these were not white students, if they were black students who had bonus points being given to whites, you would probably be among the first to be beating down the schoolhouse door to make sure that that wouldn't happen.

This is not an extreme position. All Americans should be treated equally, sir.

SHARPTON: Well I think, you know, the only problem you have is I'm on this show and I can respond. If white students had had the historic exclusion that black students have, I would not be beating down the door.

Secondly, I think when you have everyone from Condoleezza Rice to Colin Powell to Al Sharpton, everybody is taking a position, and you and George Bush are on the other side, I think that is kind of extreme, Mr. Connerly.

And I think that, clearly, I would take the same position if there was the same history in the white community. It just isn't.

CONNERLY: I'll stand with the president any day, because I don't think that's extreme.

But tell me this. How can you make that argument about the past when many of those who benefit from these programs are not descendants of slaves or people who were subjected to Jim Crow and segregation? They're recent immigrants, sir. How do you apply that rationale when we are talking about people who have never endured, who have never suffered the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow? How do they get the benefits?

SHARPTON: The goal of University of Michigan is not just dealing with Jim Crow. It's to deal with making sure diversity happens on campus.

We saw a report this morning where American schools again are segregated, particularly in the South. How do we break this segregation? How do we stop this sense of exclusion if there is not a proactive plan? And I think the University of Michigan tried to do that.

There are those that say, let it remain that way. I don't think you ever fulfill America's promise if we just let it remain that way.

CONNERLY: Reverend Sharpton, there isn't a college or a university in this country that's discriminating against black kids and Hispanic kids. The answer to this problem is for you to support programs like school choice, for more American kids who are black and Hispanic, for their parents to help them prepare to get a better education so that they can compete without the benefit of race preferences.

But I know that discrimination is wrong, and you know it's wrong. I don't see how can not be outraged by the fact that students who happen to be black and Hispanic are getting bonus points -- bonus points, sir, when they apply to the University of Michigan. Why aren't you outraged by that?

SHARPTON: Because we're not talking about race preferences. We're talking about diversity observation. And I think a university, to have a educational environment that is healthy, that prepares people to go out in society, must consider the diversity of its campus. And I think they properly came to the conclusion that unless they had a proactive affirmative-action plan that they would not have a diversified campus. I might add that affirmative action didn't start with liberal Democrats. It started under conservative Richard Nixon, a Republican administration. It was a conservative remedy. And I think that is why you have even people that I would consider conservative, like Ms. Rice, saying you can't act like it cannot be a factor that we must consider.

CONNERLY: Many historically black colleges are 90 percent or more all-black. There is not very much diversity there. Do you think that the quality of the education at those institutions is inferior?

SHARPTON: First of all, you're the only one saying about quality of education. I don't think the issue...

CONNERLY: What do you think diversity argument is all about, sir?

SHARPTON: I'd like to be able to finish. I don't think the issue was the quality of education.

I said the environment of education. If you're going to educate students and prepare them for society, part of what you consider is the environment they're educated in.

And I think what the University of Michigan and others are saying is the environment of our campuses must reflect the society that they're going out and going to face, as well as we must give opportunity to those that were historically excluded.

And I think that, clearly, the historical black colleges were founded because there was exclusion of blacks. You can't turn around now and act as though something that was formed to answer something is in fact the problem. They were a solution.

I think that a further solution under your party's conservative Nixon administration was to have an affirmative plan to try to make sure that people were no longer excluded. And I think until we make that a reality, we need to continue those programs.

BLITZER: Mr. Connerly, let me interrupt for a moment and read to you from an article that Armstrong Williams, the syndicated columnist, has in the new issue of Newsweek magazine.

He writes this: "We must reach a point where we expect to rise or fall on our own merits."

Actually, I want Reverend Sharpton to respond to this.

"We just can't continue to base opportunities on race while the needs of the poor fall by the wayside. I was taught that personal responsibility was the lever that moved the world. That is why it pains me to see my peers rest their heads upon the warm pillow of victim status."

Reverend Sharpton, what do you say to Armstrong Williams? SHARPTON: I say that he's right, but I think that he's premature in saying where we are. Jackie Robinson could play baseball before 1947. He had to have the opportunity to be on the team. Colin Powell could perform before he was there. He had to be on the team.

Affirmative action does not replace merit. It just means that you have the opportunity to show your merit.

BLITZER: All right.

SHARPTON: And absent that, you cannot have the opportunity to show your merit.

BLITZER: Mr. Connerly, do you acknowledge, as so many school administrators do around the country, the University of Michigan, or in California or Texas or anyplace else, that if you eliminate these preferences as far as race is concerned, you're automatically going to reduce the number of qualified black kids who are going to be accepted?

CONNERLY: Yes, I accept that. But you're also going to eliminate probably an awful lot of qualified white and Asian kids if you don't.

And if the standard is that we're going to apply -- that we're going to apply is that we want students who will be accepted on the basis of the indicia that we adopt, which is academic, then the solution, it seems to me, is not to by a stroke of the pen give black and Hispanic kids more points, but rather to bring the quality of their education up, to put a greater responsibility on them to be able to compete academically, but not to bring others down and to discriminate against them because they -- because black and Hispanic kids have an academic gap with respect to Asians and whites.

BLITZER: And I'm going to put up on the screen, Reverend Sharpton, the point system that the University of Michigan has that underlines what Mr. Connerly was just saying.

If you take a look at what they give, you need, in order to get in, 150 points. If you have a 4.0, a perfect great point average, you get 80 points. Diversity, if you're black or hispanic, you automatically get 20 points. If you're an athlete that they want you, you get 20 points. If you're a Michigan resident, 10 points. A perfect SAT, 12. A child of an alumnus, 4. A good essay, 3.

Is that a fair system?

SHARPTON: Absolutely. First of all, no one is protesting athletes getting 20 points. So if someone says that I'm non-athletic and I'm being discriminated against, I don't hear an outcry about that, because people accept that athletes can help the school.

I think it is far more serious to say a diverse environment is as important to the school as somebody being on the basketball team. There's no outcry about any of this other than those that want to, in my judgment, not make sure we have a fair and equal inclusive society. Any time we have a philosophy that is more important to have athletes -- and athletics is important -- but that it's more important to have athletes than to consider those that have been excluded, I think that's sad for academicians to advocate that.

BLITZER: All right. Mr. Connerly, I'll give you the last word. We're all out of time.

CONNERLY: We didn't have any war about jocks and whether or not they should have any benefits. We had a war about race. We've had some very tumultuous years in this country about race. And I am just shocked that Reverend Sharpton would place those on the same level. That is an outrage.

BLITZER: All right. We unfortunately...

SHARPTON: The University of Michigan placed them on the same level.

But we both agree with wishing you a happy anniversary, Wolf.

CONNERLY: Yes, by all means.

BLITZER: OK. That's nice of you to say that. At least we can agree on one thing.

Reverend Sharpton, Mr. Connerly, thanks for joining us.

CONNERLY: My pleasure.

BLITZER: We'll continue this debate, I am sure.

Up next, LATE EDITION's "Final Round." Our panel ready to face off on the week's big stories. The "Final Round," right after a CNN news alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Time now for our "Final Round." Joining me, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Peter Beinart of the "New Republic," Jonah Goldberg of the "National Review Online," and Robert George of the "New York Post."

As U.N. inspectors continue their work in Iraq, the Bush administration is making it clear its patience with Baghdad is wearing thin.

Today the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, suggested this week's discovery of empty chemical warheads is just the latest in a long line of Iraqi violations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: All of the evidence to date -- a false declaration, documents hidden, interfering with reconnaissance flights, trying to put restrictions on reconnaissance flights -- all of the evidence is that the Iraqis are not complying. Time is running out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Peter, is the White House finding its smoking gun?

PETER BEINART, NEW REPUBLIC: No, and I don't think they will. I actually think they've gotten themselves in a bad PR situation here.

For the White House, it's not about a smoking gun, it's about whether Saddam is voluntarily disarming. But that is a much more difficult concept to get across. Most people really are looking for a smoking gun, I think even in the United States, and there isn't going to be one. And I think that's going to be a real PR problem for them.

BLITZER: Well, that's what a lot of people don't understand, Robert. Why is it so hard to find a smoking gun if the Iraqis have done all these terrible things?

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Well, you obviously don't know exactly -- or the White House thinks that they know where the weapons and the attempted weapons are. However, the -- you've got -- well, you've got this kind of a situation where -- actually, you've got a -- you've basically got a situation where, as Peter said, the White House has put itself into this box. Blix is basically slowly getting closer to the White House position. But the -- I lost my train of thought.

BLITZER: Let Jonah. Jonah, you help him. Why is the White House having such a hard time finding a smoking gun?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I think part of the problem is that it really goes back to 1998, when the inspectors were kicked out. The inspectors saw that there was -- had reason to believe that there were smoking guns littered all over the place, that there was chemical weapons stockpiled and evidence of pursuit of all sorts of weapons of mass destruction.

Since 1998 there have been no inspectors until recently. And the idea is that the Iraqis are behaving as if the inspectors found none of that in 1998. They've had four years, five years to hide all of that stuff.

And so, you know, they've offered no proof that they've gotten rid of any of those weapons. And for the Bush administration it's a slam-dunk. It says, look, you were supposed to prove that you got rid of all that stuff that we knew was there in 1998, and you haven't done that. Therefore that's our smoking gun. You haven't proven the negative, as it were.

BLITZER: It's a weak smoking gun, if that's all there's going to be, right? DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, absolutely. And let me tell you, I think time is running out. I mean, the president expressed his frustration this week.

I'm sure the international community is expressing their frustration with the Bush administration trying to change the timetable. Look, next Monday when Mr. Blix and others go back and give their report, unless they can show that there's been some either non-cooperation or some more items that they've found, I think the international community is going to say, "Hey, hold up on this thing and let's give the inspectors more time."

BLITZER: You did hear Condoleezza Rice begin talking about the Iraqis shooting at U.S. planes patrolling the no-fly zone. That's an issue they don't talk about much, but it's something that presumably they'll be talking about more.

GEORGE: Yes, exactly. Unfortunately, right now it's a rhetorical, in a sense it's a rhetorical argument that the Bush administration is making. And they, in a sense, let themselves into this situation by agreeing to go with the inspection regime in the first place.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on. And this weekend in Washington, more than -- at least tens of thousands of people, we don't exactly know how many, turned out to protest going to war with Iraq. Other demonstrations were held around country.

Jonah, is the anti-war momentum growing?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I think it is. The problem is, is that the momentum is growing in the wrong direction. If this had been an anti- war movement organized by, say, the National Council of Churches or somebody like that, you wouldn't have had the freak show that you had in Washington this weekend.

The problem is, is the people running the anti-war movement aren't honest, conscientious, liberal sort of people who are against war or have a reasonable argument about this stuff.

It is run by this group ANSWER and some other coalition groups that are basically a bunch of pachouli-soaked nut jobs, who are Marxists, anarchists, who have all sorts of bizarre agendas about what the world should be about. And their biggest problem for the anti-war movement today is that whenever their leaders speak, they discredit themselves. BLITZER: All right, what about that? We heard Ramsey Clark speak at this rally yesterday. Al Sharpton was there, Jesse Jackson was there, Cynthia McKinney.

What do you -- are they all a bunch of nut jobs?

BRAZILE: No, I don't think so. But I do believe that Jonah makes a very important point, in terms of the PR effort.

Look, you don't have to look at the number or the size of the protest to know that there is an effective peace movement taking place in American politics today. Just look at the polls. The president's poll numbers are down.

That said, look, I think the war movement -- yes, an anti-war movement yesterday managed to do one thing, and that is they captivated moms and pops across the country saying, "Look, it's time to have another dialogue." And it may take off.

BLITZER: Peter, how concerned should the Bush administration be about this seemingly growing anti-war movement?

BEINART: Not at all. I think Jonah's absolutely right, these are exactly the guys they want in opposition.

And it's not just that they're on the far left. They do not have a policy. Remember, it's not just that these guys are anti-war. For years and years, they've been passionately anti-sanctions.

So the question you have to ask these guys is, you don't want war against Saddam, you don't want sanctions against Saddam, then you don't think Saddam is a threat at all? That is a lunatic, marginal position to take.

BLITZER: But there is a split according to the polls -- you look at the polls carefully, Robert -- about whether or not the U.S. should go to war without a formal United Nations Security Council authorization.

GEORGE: Right, I think the growing -- to the extent that there is a growing anti-war movement, it's actually a reflection of the fact that the Bush administration's -- right now their forces are, in a sense, scattered.

GEORGE: The North Korea situation has completely blind-sided them. They're still, again, caught in this rhetorical trap on Iraq.

And so, the anti-war movement, in a sense, has more things which they can, in a sense, shoot at the administration on.

BLITZER: You want to weigh in on there?

BEINART: No, I completely agree. But even the anti-war movement, what's also remarkable, listening to these guys, is how much they talk about things other than Iraq. I mean, they have a thousand different agendas. They manage to bring in abortion, the environment, everything under the sun. It's really -- they do not have a focused argument on Iraq.

GOLDBERG: Karl Rove would have been delighted if the ratings for C-SPAN yesterday for this new anti-war movement were a 70 share, and that all Americans were watching this anti-war movement because that is the best advertisement that the people are against the Bush administration, people on the podium, the few examples you may have cited notwithstanding, are exactly the kind of people they want to believe their critics are.

GEORGE: I think Karl Rove would want a 70 share for CNN regardless. (LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: C-SPAN. We're talking about C-SPAN. CNN did not carry it live.

We have to take a quick break. Just ahead, the affirmative action debate. Our Final Round, we'll be right back.

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BLITZER: After its initial hard line, the Bush administration this week said it was willing to offer North Korea food and energy if that country halted its nuclear program.

Today the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, told me the White House seems to be waffling when it comes to the North Korea standoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DASCHLE: I think it appears to be a position a week. You know, there seems to be a very disconcerting direction that -- with fits and starts that send all the wrong messages, not only to Korea but to countries all over the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Tom, is Tom Daschle right?

GEORGE: Robert.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Robert, is Tom Daschle right?

(LAUGHTER)

GEORGE: It's catching. It's catching.

Surprising enough, yes, I think Tom Daschle is exactly right. The administration has jumped around from saying it's not going to negotiate with North Korea and suddenly, "Oh, sure, we'll give them food, we'll give them energy."

The administration just earlier this year -- excuse me, last year, it said that its new national security strategy basically put preemption and so forth on the table, and then they suddenly say, "Well, North Korea, we're definitely not going to attack. The military option is off the table."

It's very, very confusing, and it sends the wrong signal around the world.

BLITZER: All right. Peter? BEINART: Yes, I think the problem goes all the way back to the State of the Union speech. They basically threw North Korea into the axis of evil rhetoric, in a way as a kind of affirmative action. They needed some diversity among the three countries...

(LAUGHTER)

... so they chose an Asian country.

Of course, North Korea is evil, but you can't call them evil unless you have a policy to back it up, unless you know what you're going to do. Words have consequences.

They didn't have a policy. Now they're backing into the Clinton policy, and they look a lot worse than if they'd actually taken a soft-line position from the beginning.

BLITZER: If you read Bob Woodward's book, the president of the United States hates Kim Jong Il.

GOLDBERG: Yes, and I think that quote hurt our foreign policy a little bit, going out there...

BLITZER: Called him -- what did he call him? Pygmy.

GOLDBERG: Yes, he said he loathes him, you know, and he feels it in his gut and all that. And I think that, in some ways, was bad foreign policy to have that out there.

I agree. I mean, one of the reasons why it's a position a week is that we're in a weak position. And it's very difficult to come up with...

GEORGE: Thank you, Jesse (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: Well, you know. It's very difficult to come up with a good option here. And I have some sympathy for the Bush administration, but I do basically agree that they've been in free fall for the last 10 days, two weeks.

BLITZER: I want to predict, you agree with Jonah on that.

BRAZILE: I agree with Jonah, I agree with Peter, and I agree with Robert on all of the basic points.

The administration has flip-flopped, you know, saying they wouldn't talk, now they will talk, they'll, you know, give a little food and fuel and hopefully, you know, reduce the tensions.

But I think ultimately this administration has had incoherent foreign policies along. I mean, from the Middle East to Iraq and now this one here, it's just food for the course.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on.

Speaking about affirmative action, the White House stepped into the affirmative action debate earlier this week. It filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action program.

President Bush says the program doesn't square with the Constitution, but today on this program the secretary of state, Colin Powell, appeared to disagree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: I believe race should be a factor, among many other factors, in determining the makeup of a student body of a university. A public university, a university exists to educate the public. And if there is any segment of the public that is not adequately represented in the university, as a university it's doing its chartered job to the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Donna, where do you stand on this issue? Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice apparently on one side, the president a little bit on a different side, even though administration officials insisting there's not a whole lot of daylight between them.

BRAZILE: I am totally supportive of Colin Powell's consistent position, a position that he held back in September of 2000 when he was asked about that issue and a position he continues to hold today.

So I believe that affirmative action is still needed. The Clinton administration said it's time to mend it, not end it.

The president the other day said that he's for diversity without giving any clear remedy that would try to attempt to meet the goals that he stated that he wanted to meet.

So I think Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are both right on this.

BLITZER: It's pretty unusual for this administration, which is so well organized, to have two top people, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, even showing some daylight of difference with the president.

GOLDBERG: Yes, and some of that may be for public consumption. It's kind of hard to figure out exactly the criminology (ph) here.

But I think Bush's basic problem is that he wants to will an end, but he doesn't want to use the means to get there. And he wants diversity. In his seven-minute statement, he mentioned diversity 10 times. And you have to take him at his word that he believes all of that. But at the same time he doesn't want to use race-based means to get you there.

Well, it's very difficult. The University of Michigan does have a quota. It says it wants 10 percent minority representation, and then they have to jigger the system to figure out how to reach that number.

And, you know, one of the things I wish people would keep in mind is that this is a demand problem. All of our institutions of higher education, or almost all of them, desperately want more qualified black people. These are not racist institutions. These are institutions clamoring for these people.

And what we've got to do is, we've got to fix the inner-city schools and stop playing these stupid racial games.

GEORGE: Yes, that's exactly right.

And in fact, the president did reference programs they have in Texas, California and Florida that at least address the basic undergraduate position, where, if you allow either -- whether it's between 4 and 10 percent of all high school students to be eligible for...

BLITZER: The top 4 or 10 percent.

GEORGE: ... the top 4 to 10 percent to be eligible for admission to the university, you get numbers that are similar to what they were using before, when it was a hard quota.

GEORGE: Now, the other kind of PR problem I think that the White House had earlier this week, because there was so much internal division, they waited until literally the last minute before they put in the front (ph) of the court brief, which, of course, ended up happening to be right on Martin Luther King's actual birthday. So that ended up just sending other problematic signals.

BLITZER: Wrap this up. Politically and substantively, how are they going to work this out?

BEINART: Well, I think that Jonah is right, that ultimately the answer has to do with education before college level. And I think this is where you ask the Bush administration the question, what is your policy?

They had this big policy last year. Now they're cutting the funding dramatically for it, against the Democratic wishes. They say they believe in school choice. That's what they were going to do. They've done nothing, expended no political capital.

So don't say the answer lies in primary education if you have no real strategy for doing something about primary education.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take another quick break. Our Lightning Round is just ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

The former vice president, Al Gore, on this program in March of 1999, had some important comments that may -- may have cost him the election. I want our listeners to listen to that comment right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Those words, Donna, were quite controversial. They became the butt of a lot of latenight talk show jokes. You know, he obviously misspoke, and he paid a huge price for it.

BRAZILE: Absolutely. I tell you, we -- that whole incident dogged us, Wolf, for many, many months. I say we also probably took a lot of trees trying to explain it, putting out a statement and also putting out his congressional record. Because Gore did help lead that revolution in the Internet and others. But that's politics.

BLITZER: So when he was on this program and he said, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet," that was translated -- the shorthand was, "I created the Internet."

Was Gore falsely accused of saying something he never said?

GOLDBERG: I think he probably got a little bit of an unfair treatment. But the problem was, it fit a pattern of the way Gore talked about himself and his accomplishments. And so, it fit that pattern of him sort of being a self-aggrandizing guy, and it was deadly in that context.

BLITZER: What about that, Peter?

BEINART: No, I actually think that the press has a lot to answer for, for the way that -- Bush was basically making much, much more serious and bigger lies on policy, about the tax cut, about Social Security, all through that campaign. And Gore's smaller lies about, you know, his dogs, the prescription drug coverage, all of that, that became the news. And I think it was unfair.

GEORGE: Politicians have to be very, very careful in the way they speak. My former boss, Newt Gingrich, made a point of talking about how he was hoping how Medicare -- how the transformation of Medicare. That suddenly became translated into him wanting to see Medicare wither on the vine.

Gore misspoke a little bit. And you're right, it did cost him a lot.

BLITZER: How many votes did he lose by in Florida? 500...

BRAZILE: 137.

GOLDBERG: They're weren't Internet-related voters.

(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: An anti-war group, meanwhile, has revived one of the most controversial but famous political ads in history. It was used only once by Lyndon Johnson's campaign in 1964. Here is the 2003 version.

Actually, we don't have that. We don't have that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIRL: One, two, three...

ANNOUNCER: War with Iraq. Maybe it will end quickly, maybe not. Maybe it will spread.

Maybe extremists will take over countries with nuclear weapons.

Maybe the unthinkable.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Peter, is this over the top?

BEINART: Oh, absolutely over the top. They never make any real argument how on Earth war in Iraq is really going to lead to nuclear war, presumably in the United States.

And this is exactly what I was talking about earlier, the problem with the anti-war movement. They're not making serious, real arguments. It's demagogy. And I think it should be -- I hope it's taken off the air.

BLITZER: Robert?

GEORGE: Yes, it's ridiculous. It's this group MoveOn.org, you know, who came out of the whole Lewinsky scandal. Unfortunately, they didn't move on. Their lies just got bigger.

BRAZILE: I think it's credible. I think it helps to define this debate, the consequences of a preemptive strike. So I think for that purpose alone, it really helps to educate.

GOLDBERG: First of all, I mean, I agree entirely with Peter, but it also shows that they're frozen in the past, that they still see things through this sort of peacenik, 1960s mentality and that everything can still be explained by that.

But it also, you know, it reminds us of the incredible slander that there was -- that was delivered against Barry Goldwater in those days, and I have to speak up for the man.

BLITZER: And here's a footnote that a lot of you probably are not familiar with. It was exactly five years ago this coming week that we first heard the name, at least most of us heard the name, Monica Lewinsky.

Looking back on those days, we heard a lot of new names in those days...

(LAUGHTER)

... didn't we, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Yes, yes, yes. You know, look, I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I think the most pertinent one for these purposes is that I think the whole episode proved the myth of compartmentalization and the notion that Bill Clinton or any president could put certain parts of his character in one place and other parts of his character in another place. Policy, personality, character all over the place -- doesn't work. They're all one man.

BLITZER: What about Monica Lewinsky, the legacy five years later?

BRAZILE: It proved that when Republicans overreach, there's an enormous price that they pay. There was a backlash. Democrats almost took back the House, and Newt Gingrich...

GOLDBERG: But that's why Republicans now control the House and the Senate and the White House.

GEORGE: Yes, exactly. Basically, Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky cost Al Gore the presidency more than anything he said about the Internet. I think there was -- Gore tried to get away from Clinton and he couldn't.

BEINART: No, I actually agree with Donna. I think it was really the Waterloo for -- I mean, the Republican Party is now doing well because of the war on terrorism.

But I actually think, in a way, it showed that what they realized during that was that the American people were not actually with the conservative wing of the Republican Party on these questions. And I think it's a good thing.

BLITZER: On that note, we're going to leave it on our fifth anniversary of me hosting the show.

BEINART: Happy anniversary.

BRAZILE: Happy anniversary.

GEORGE: Happy anniversary.

GOLDBERG: Happy anniversary.

BLITZER: I want to thank Frank Sesno. He created this show five years, almost five years before that. He did an excellent job.

BRAZILE: And you're still a young man.

BLITZER: And I'm still here.

(LAUGHTER) That's all the time we have today. Please join me again next Sunday, every Sunday, at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

I'll be here Monday through Friday, noon Eastern, for Showdown: Iraq. Later in the day, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for Wolf Blitzer Reports.

Until then, thanks very much for joining us on this fifth anniversary hosting this excellent program. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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